Setting goals for 2017 (or for anything else)

The new year is finally here, and with it comes a new list of the classic New Year’s Resolutions! Every year a lot of us set goals and things, but do we actually manage to make them happen?

Looking back at the resolutions I made at the beggining of 2016, I can see that I only accomplished about half of them. The resolutions I managed to complete were all specific and comics-oriented, which is stuff that I know how to do; such as “finish 100 episodes of Postcards”, “start drawing Unlimited” and “Fill my journal comic sketchbook”. On the other hand, the resolutions I didn’t complete were more general and out of my comfort zone, like “keep an exercise routine” and “learn to play the harmonica”.

Now that I see these results, it actually makes a lot of sense. The way we plan and set our goals has a considerable impact in whether we actually accomplish them. This applies for any kind of planning, but since it’s resolution season it felt appropiate to write about it now 🙂

Here’s some tips that can help you plan your goals and turn them into achievable tasks in a more effective way:

  • Make your goals specific. Things like “exercise more” can be goals too vague to actually reach them – when do you know you’ve done enough? Something like “be able to run 5k by the end of the year” feels more attainable.
  • Break your big goals into smaller ones. I think this is one of the most important parts of effective planning. Dividing a goal into smaller parts give you a better sense of how you progress towards the bigger goal. For example, instead of just writing down “finish my comic” you can divide it in chapters, or in a “thumbnail, pencil, ink” sequence of sub-tasks.
  • Make your goals realistic. Know your limits and keep your goals challenging, but possible to reach. Impossible goals will only make you feel worse!
  • Give yourself deadlines, even if they’re not entirely real. Giving yourself unlimited time to finish a task (or goal, or project…) will make you more likely to postpone it over and over, indefinitely. “By the end of the year” is the default deadline for New Year’s resolutions, but personally I work better setting deadlines each month.
  • Keep constant reminders of your goals and projects. I’ve been wanting to play the harmonica since I bought it in 2015, but every time I could be practising, I end up working on something else (my comics, mostly, when I’m home). If I subscribed to a YouTube channel with lessons and set reminders to watch one every day, it’d be way easier to finally get started. Easier said than done.

I’ll be writing more in depth about most of these points in the future, but hopefully this will give you a good start. Part of these tips are based on the S.M.A.R.T. criteria (Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, Time-related) used in project management, in case you want to read more about that!

As for me, my New Year’s resolutions include finishing my thesis, a lot of comic-related goals, writing more on this blog and, yes, learning to play the harmonica. Here’s hoping 2017 is the year I finally learn to use that thing.

…..or not.